Before I was old enough to wear make-up, I became Mom’s little personal-assistant, and was frequently called upon to rummage through her purse for a tissue or unneeded envelope to blot her colorful lips. Each time, I watched her routine with awe: Apply, blot, then ask, “There! How does it look? Do you see any lipstick on my teeth?”
Most often, she’d applied her current favorite shade perfectly. Occasionally, I’d spot a renegade dab of red or bright pink, and use a finger to wipe it away. I liked being Mom’s lipstick inspector. I took my assigned job very seriously and felt proud that she trusted me to help her look her very best.
Even when Mom went to go to the grocery store or post office, she never left the house without first applying lipstick. Once happy with how she looked, she’d either say, “You never know who you’ll will run in to,” or “You don’t want to look more pale than need be.”
Sadly, in 2006, Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. Throughout her brave journey through seemingly endless treatments, she never wavered from her lipstick routine. Perhaps, the normalcy of her beauty regimen afforded her comfort and even a sense of control. For certain, watching her persevere in spite of fear, nausea, and fatigue, gave me hope that although all wasn’t right with our world, life would one day again feel safe and happy.
Too weak to apply it herself, during her final few weeks, I daily applied the color that brightened her ever-paling skin. Knowing Mom would definitely want to look her best for any Heavenly guests who’d be arriving to escort back to her eternal home, I took extra care applying her lipstick. She appeared so peaceful and radiant wearing her most recent favorite shade, L’Oréal Mica #620, that even her hospice nurse commented that she looked like Sleeping Beauty.
Lipstick on, Mom left my childhood home for the last time on Tuesday, November 30, 2010 at 3:45am. She looked beautiful.